The integration of Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University, as outlined in the Letter of Intent signed Dec. 17, 2015, will create more value for students and drive innovation in higher education, Philadelphia University President Stephen Spinelli Jr. said at the Philadelphia Business Journal’s 2016 Economic Conference held Jan. 14 in Philadelphia.
“Collaboration and leveraging resources and a common belief in the value proposition of higher education” is at the heart of the integration, Spinelli said at the conference, which attracted some 400 business, government and nonprofit leaders.
Some of the things we are talking about that would benefit students include additional options to seamlessly combine undergraduate and graduate studies and complete degrees in a shorter amount of time, Spinelli said. “If we give them choices, we can give them value.”
The half-day forum at the Loews Hotel in Center City focused on a number of issues important to the city’s economic health, including energy and transportation. In addition to Spinelli, the higher education panel also included Drexel University President John Fry and Villanova President Rev. Peter Donohue.
With an eye towards the city’s future, the college presidents were asked how they incorporate entrepreneurship education and opportunities on their campuses.
Entrepreneurship is “a core part of the curriculum in everything we do,” Spinelli said. “One hundred percent of our students need to understand this. You can be entrepreneurial without starting a business, and bring value to whatever you do.”
Similarly, the opportunity for students to work on transdisciplinary teams on projects with industry partners is an important component of a PhilaU education, he said. This real-world experience with industry officials as part of the teaching team has yielded “phenomenal results” and often lead to internship and job opportunities for students, Spinelli said.
When the presidents were asked what keeps them up at night, Spinelli said his “professional obligation” to ensure PhilaU graduates are prepared to succeed and lead in the workplace. “If they don’t get a job,” he said, “I didn’t do my job.”